Old Faithful, Back on the Road.
With the CB350 reassembled, it was time to test fire her and see where I stood. I had the Vintage Japanese Motorcycle Club National Rally coming up in about a week and the bike had to be ready and able to be ridden 1,200 miles or so to Helen, Georgia, in the Blue Ridge Mountains, and back to Florida.
The bike had never had the proper 350A carbs on her, so while it was in pieces, I went on the search for a matched pair of 350As. I found them, thoroughly cleaned them, and finally put them back on the motor as soon as everything else was restored to its proper place.
A little non-ethanol fuel was picked up via jerry can then deposited in the CB's tank, the key was turned, and the starter thumbed. Old Faithful came back to life (You can't say "roared back to life" when referring to a CB350 motor, which sounds more like a muffled lawnmower engine combined with the whirs, clicks, and rattles of a sewing machine.)
But something was not right. Fuel was pouring out of the overflow weep-hole on the bottom of the left carburetor. I had done this many times before—pull the carb, clean the float valve seat and needle, reinstall and try again. This done, I reinstalled the carb and tried again. Nope, nothing' doin' Still leaking.
After a few (meaning a couple dozen) more cycles of dissasemlby and reassembly I had the foresight to fill the bowl with fuel off the carb. It still leaked. This can only mean the fuel overflow tube has a leak around where the brass tub attaches to the aluminum bowl, just above the weep-hole. I had an extra bowl for a 350A and it was playing the same trick.
"Sounds like a job for JB Weld," I told myself and off I went to Autozone to pick some up.
Back with the magic epoxy mixture, I went to work on the drain tube, making sure I got a good bead of JB all around the circumference of the tube where it attaches to the float bowl. So, while I waited the required twenty-four hours before reattaching the bowl to the carb and filling it with fuel, I dreamed of instant gratification upon hitting the starter the next day.
The 350A float bowl with JB Weld applied to the tube to bowl joint.
The next day I put the carb back together, attached it to the motor, and turned the petcock to Reserve. Not a drop! Aha! Now, we will listen to the sweet sound of the Honda twin once more. And it did start, but the bike would only run on the right cylinder. The fuel line going to the left was devoid of gas.
"OK," I said to myself, "Need to pull the carb and adjust the float; no biggie! Standard operating procedure." Once again, I fired her up. The motor sputtered to life, but still something was wrong. Now, although she seemed to be running fine, fuel was pouring out of the left carb. "Can't have that," I thought. Off comes the carb again along with all the related lines, cables, air filter, and side cover. Back on and now the carb is dry, and I repeated the entire cycle, this time resulting in an overflowing carburetor, then repeating the entire cycle, now I had a dry carburetor, then…repeat this cycle, oh, I dunno, perhaps two dozen times. No matter how I adjusted the flaot valve tang, if the fuel flowed at all, it overflowed; and if it didn't overflow, the carb was dry. Between all the offs-and-ons, the carb was dismantled and clean once again. An order was placed for a brand new OEM float needle and seat (This would surely solve the problem!). The vents and the jets were all blown with compressed air, and still the carb would not cooperate.
Old and new float valves and seats.
Finally, with my deadline for departure for Helen approaching and wanting to have ample time to test ride and make sure everything was OK with the bike, I abandoned, at least temporarily, the attempt to make the bike all original with the 350As as it was designed. Luckily for me, just before the frame break had caused a year-long pause in riding the bike; the motor had been running perfectly on the old pair of 3Ds, which I had jetted to simulate the 350As' settings. I dug out the dirty old 3Ds, wiped them down best I could and replaced the 350As with them.
Old and dirty 3D on left. Nice clean 350A on right.
In the meantime, I had run down a few remaining electrical gremlins. Now when the key was turned the neutral light was working, along with the gauge lights and headlight. All I needed was a running motor.
I hit the starter and Old Faithful came alive, on both cylinders, with no leaks! I hit the streets and did a short test ride. All was fine now and the bike purred just like it did on that last ride to North Carolina, where the frame had given out.
The gauges are the only things that I had not tried to fix and the tach was bouncing all over the dial, while the speedo stuck at 30 mph, until I gave it a good whack with my fist. The tach will be disconnected. Who needs a tach anyway!? I mean I can feel what rpm I am at on this old bike. Just in case the speedo continues to ignore the wheel revolutions and posts its own less-than-accurate opinion as to our speed, I will velcro, once more, that old handheld GPS to the bars that had served me before as a speedometer on my way to Michigan.
With four days to spare I had gotten the bike back to road-worthiness, and come Thursday, I was to once again have the experience of enduring, er, I mean enjoying, a ride of over 500 miles on the back of that old 350. For a year I had been attending VJMC rides on my modern Triumph, and while that allowed me to participate, there was just something not right about riding a modern Brit bike among all those vintage Japanese motorcycles. Now, I was back in the saddle and Old Faithful will have the chance to ride again with her two-wheeled brethren
"Ride Your Own Ride"